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< Back to news 08 December, 2014

Tis the season to be sustainable

The Christmas season can be a testing time for hotel owners - as the Christmas lights go up, so do electricity costs and energy consumption, here Consumables Buyer, Liz Snowball gives her top ideas to help you have a sustainable Christmas.

The Christmas season can be a testing time for hotel owners - as the Christmas lights go up, so do electricity costs and energy consumption, and hotels are often left with an energy bill that would compare to that of the Blackpool illuminations! On top of this, food and consumables waste can often prove quite costly for hoteliers, with the government’s waste reduction advisory body, WRAP, revealing that hoteliers could save an estimated £720 million per year by not throwing away good food. But there is a twinkly Christmas light at the end of the tunnel and there are plenty of options that businesses can explore, to help keep costs and consumption low over Christmas - without being a Scrooge!

Sustainability is a big part of everything that we do at Beacon. We work very closely with the Responsible Hospitality Partnership, which has been offering sustainability advice to hotels since 2010. We’ve drawn on the knowledge of Rebecca Hawkins, founder of the Responsible Hospitality Partnership and expert in sustainability, our in-house team and our suppliers, to offer advice suggestions on how to have a sustainable Christmas.

Consider donating leftovers to help combat food waste

WRAP has revealed that the cost of food waste from the hospitality and foodservice sector is predicted to rise to a staggering £3.0 billion by 2016. As we all know from our own Christmas dinners, the amount of waste leftover can be pretty huge. With this in mind, it’s good to consider different ways that you can reduce the amount of food waste in your business before and after Christmas.

Christmas is, after all, the time for giving, so why not consider donating edible but leftover food to charities? There are an increasing number of charities that will collect unpackaged food, for example buffet food. Plan Zheroes is a great example, they will collect surplus food right from your doorstep and deliver it to local charities.

Think about alternative Christmas decorations

On top of food waste, an estimated 660,000 tonnes of ‘non-food’ waste is produced by businesses in the hospitality and foodservice sector per-year.

If you’re planning a festive floral display, flowers can be very costly at this time of year and will often perish quickly. Why not think about some alternatives? We’re seeing a lot of hoteliers choose wheat and rice grass, which last for three to four weeks, making it far more cost effective than traditional flowers. Mini Christmas trees, as well as bulbs such as hyacinths, can all add Christmas cheer without breaking the bank, especially if they are watered regularly. Because these alternatives last considerably longer than traditional flowers, the amount of consumables waste you produce will be much less.

Use LED fairy lights instead of a cheaper alternative

Although LED bulbs are slightly more expensive, they inevitably give you a huge saving in the long run. Here at Beacon we work with hoteliers to help them reduce costs and consumption by switching to LED lighting and make savings of up to 70% a year on energy costs. LED fairy lights use considerably less energy, are available in a variety of colours and have an average lifespan of around 20 years. This means you can still achieve a perfectly festive lighting design as part of your Christmas decoration, but ultimately make a huge saving on your energy bill.

What’s more, the Philips Imageo Candle Light, which is available from Beacon supplier Mico Lighting, is a fantastic alternative to candles, which can be inconvenient and costly. The Imageo Candle takes eight hours to charge and has an operating time of 20 hours per charge. Again, this will reduce your waste output as you won’t be burning through candles, as well as decreasing your energy consumption compared to using traditional Christmas lights.

If in doubt, use the three Rs!

Our supplier Managed Waste Solutions can offer a range of advice on waste management and recycling. It’s the old classic: reduce, reuse, recycle! There are recycling centres situated across the country for recycling glass, cans, paper, plastic bottles and film, textiles and shoes. Even your Christmas tree can be recycled - either use a Christmas tree with roots, so it can be planted outdoors after Christmas ready for next year, or take it to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre to be shredded for compost. It’s a good idea to check with your local authority too – some will collect your Christmas tree from your doorstep.